On December 19th I wrote that I had accepted a challenge for people to get outside for 30 minutes everyday for 101 days. In that post I said that I can walk about two miles in 30 minutes, and so I challenged myself to do that, and to reach 400 walking miles for the entire year of 2021. I’m happy to say that I did reach my 400-mile goal, before December 31st, and just today I’ve reached the goal of walking for 101 consecutive days, 2+ miles per day.
When I started the 101 days it was November 24, 2021 and we still had golden leaves on the ground, there was green lawns, and the sidewalks and paths were clear. Within ten days the temperatures had dropped and there was snow on the ground. Our winter continued into 2022, and today there is still snow covering the ground. But I have enjoyed so many experiences on my walks. I have walked during a light snowfall when the world seems magical and beautiful and the lights inside the houses are warm and glowing. I’ve trudged through an overnight snowfall of almost five inches with the wind instantly blowing and drifting the snow over my footprints. I’ve seen deer and I’ve heard wolves. I’ve listened to woodpeckers drilling and I’ve seen sparrows huddled in the brush trying to keep warm. I have been out on sun-warmed days when everyone was smiling and so happy for any bit of warmth, and I’ve bundled myself up in multiple layers to protect from the wind and the cold. I’ve watched the moon rise and the sun too.
I haven’t decided yet if I will continue to walk every day; I have already logged 143 miles this year. I’m sure I will walk for at least awhile as I know that being outside in nature is a balm to me amidst all the uncertainties and worries of today, tomorrow, and the future.
Our steps haven’t been completely clear for quite a while this winter. Even when they weren’t covered with fresh snow there were still the inevitable patches of ice or compacted snow. And the temperatures just haven’t risen high enough or the sun hasn’t beat down on the steps enough to clear them.
After a recent overnight snowfall it seemed that the steps were just peeking out of the snow, making a wonderful study in black and white. The mounds of shoveled snow on either side of the steps (remnants of previous snows) breaks up the white with a welcome curve, and the lone leaf was there for only a short time before a gust of wind swept it up and into the air, across the yard.
It had been another cold winter’s night and the temperature was below zero. The air was still and a coating of frost had formed on the tree branches and leaves that were along the lake’s shoreline. Slowly the sun rose across the frozen lake. As it cleared the trees on the opposite shore it spread it’s golden light on the frost covered leaves and branches. They sparkled in the light for a brief time and then the warmth was too much and the frost melted. The wind picked up, rattling the remaining brittle leaves in the wind as the sun continued it’s arc in the bright sky.
We’ve turned the calendar page to a new month and new year. But we’ve also started gaining more daylight with each day. At first it seems imperceptible and yet those half minutes eventually add up.
In the north we are still in the depths of winter. The snow is getting deeper and we’re continuing to get slaps of polar temperatures from the north. Our cold will continue for another month or more. My coping mechanism is to follow the light and the increasing daylight. The sun will slowly rise to a higher angle and it will shine through our coldness for a longer time each day. Eventually our part of the planet will tip towards the south and we will say goodbye to our cold temperatures and short days. But until then, I plan to embrace (as best I can!) the cold and the beauty of winter.
And here we are at the close of another year. Through all the difficulties and uncertainties of this past year I hope you have also found time for appreciation, happiness, and wonder. May you look back on 2021 as a year fully-lived, and look forward to the new year with hope and joy in a new day’s dawning.